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Visit Syracuse's NBT Bank Stadium 

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@BensBiz
November 18, 2021

Welcome to NBT Bank Stadium, where the potatoes are salty and the beer selections plentiful. Enjoy a night of baseball in the fair state of New York, in close proximity to the wonderment of the New York State Fair.

Syracuse Mets (Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets since 2019)
Established: 1961 (as the Syracuse Chiefs in the Triple-A International League)
League: Triple-A East
Ballpark: NBT Bank Stadium (opened 1997)
Championships: 1969, 1970, 1976
Notable Alumni: Carlos Delgado, Dave Steib, Ron Guidry, Bobby Cox (manager)

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Professional baseball in Syracuse is nearly as old as professional baseball itself, with the city's first team taking the field in 1877. The 1879 Syracuse Stars were members of the National League. The 1889 Stars, members of the International League, featured Moses "Fleetwood" Walker. He was the last Black player to compete in the league until Jackie Robinson suited up for the Montreal Royals in 1946.

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Minor League Baseball has been a near-constant in Syracuse since the establishment of the Chiefs in 1934. That International League team played through 1957; in 1961 the franchise returned for good following a community effort in which shares of the team were available to purchase at $10 apiece. The Chiefs remained community-owned until the New York Mets purchased the team following the 2017 season. In 2019, following the completion of a preexisting affiliation agreement with the Washington Nationals, the team changed its name to the Mets. This marked the end of the Chiefs era, and it also marked the first time that a Syracuse Minor League team had the same name as its parent club.

When the Mets bought the Syracuse club, they committed to remaining in the city until at least 2043. This would result in the longest affiliation in the city's history, beating out the Chiefs' three-decade run with the Toronto Blue Jays (1978-2008).

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NBT Bank Stadium

Ballpark Location (via Google Maps)
Syracuse Mets Roster
Syracuse Mets Schedule

1 Tex Simone Drive
Syracuse, NY, 13208
(315) 474-7833

Capacity: 10,815
Dimensions: left field, 330; center field, 400; right field, 330

When the first Syracuse Chiefs team took the field in 1934, they did so at their brand-new home of Municipal Stadium. That facility, renamed MacArthur Stadium in 1942, hosted Minor League Baseball through 1996. It was replaced in nearly the same location by the ballpark now known as NBT Bank Stadium, which opened on April 3, 1997.

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NBT Bank Stadium's parking lot, located where MacArthur Park once stood.

NBT Bank Stadium is, in a word, big. It's one of the few Minor League ballparks featuring an honest-to-God upper deck, which has room for some 3,000 fans. Recent renovations to the Onandaga County-owned facility, spurred by the New York Mets' purchase of the team, have improved the fan experience. The Metropolitan Club, an enclosed banquet room located the end of the first-base side of the ballpark, is adjacent to the Salt City Deck group area. Four-top table seating has been installed behind home plate, and synthetic turf berm areas were added in left and right field. Left field now features the 315 Bullpen Bar, open to all fans throughout the ballgame.

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A bobblehead of Syracuse Mets' mascot Scooch, rendered in the style of a New York State Fair butter scultpure.

NBT Bank Stadium, located north of downtown Syracuse, is accessible primarily by car. It is bounded by I-90 (to the north) and I-81 (to the west). The New York State Fairgrounds are located nearby, on the other side of Onondaga Lake. The State Fair, which runs for two weeks in the late summer, inspired the Syracuse Mets' unique Butter Sculptures alternate identity.

Concessions

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NBT Bank Ballpark's hot dogs and sausages are supplied by Hofmann's Sausage Company, a Syracuse institution since 1879. For many local fans, hot dogs and Hofmann's are synonymous. Pair your dog with the simple and self-explanatory side dish that are salt potatoes, a local specialty of small boiled white potatoes that has inspired its own food-based alternate team identity.

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"Loaded" salt potatoes, topped with cheese and bacon.

NBT Bank Stadium is a beer aficionado's paradise. The Hops Spot, located on the first-base side of the concourse, offers multiple craft beers on draft and dozens of bottled options.

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The ever-changing Hops Spot menu, as seen during a game in 2019.

Mascot

Syracuse is the home of the Orange men. It's also the home of Scooch, an orange mascot who is not a man. Nothing rhymes with orange but Scooch rhymes with pooch. Does this mean that Scooch is a dog? That's up to you to decide. Scooch is many things to many people, yet wholly singular. Keep an eye out for him at the ballpark if you are in want or need of a hearty high five from a colorful individual who embodies the Mets' aesthetic.

Local Attractions

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Syracuse, the home of the upside-down traffic signal.

For maximum Syracuse summertime fun, plan your visit to NBT Bank Ballpark in conjunction with the aforementioned New York State Fair. It's a massive two-week event, complete with deep-fried delights, a full-to-bursting concert schedule and, yes, butter sculptures. Syracuse is, of course, a college town. Check out amateur athletic exploits and explore the larger University Hill neighborhood. The city's greatest architectural wonder is the Niagara Mohawk Building, an Art Deco masterpiece built in 1932 as the headquarters of the Niagara Hudson Electric Company. Fans of the quirky must visit the upside-down traffic signal, where red is on the bottom and green is on the top. Irish pride is the reason why.

Food and Drink

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If you don't get your fill of Hofmann's hot dogs at the ballpark, head to Heid's of Liverpool. This throwback fast food establishment has been slinging grilled dogs since 1917. Make it a double snappy. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que now has locations throughout New York State, but the flagship is in Syracuse. There you'll find huge portions of ribs, pulled pork, sausage and shrimp in a lively, kitschy atmosphere. For a charming old-time vibe, stop for a pint or three at Nibsy's Pub. Established in 1890, it bills itself as the oldest tavern in Syracuse.

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A plate of barbecue from Dinosaur Barbecue.

Lodging

From historic hotels to idyllic bed and breakfasts to chain establishments, there are no shortage of accommodations available. If ballpark proximity is a priority, there are plentiful options clustered around nearby I-90.

Moving On

For a maximum dose of upstate New York, make Syracuse part of a Triple-A East itinerary that also includes the Buffalo Bisons and Rochester Red Wings. The Binghamton Rumble Ponies, situated one rung below Syracuse on the New York Mets' organizational ladder, are located approximately 73 miles to the south. From there consider heading to the Big Apple. The New York Mets are in Queens and their High-A affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones, are situated amid the wonders of Coney Island.

The Road to New York City

As detailed above, the Mets' system is largely based in New York State. The exception is the St. Lucie Mets, who play at the New York Mets' Spring Training home of Clover Park.

Low-A: St. Lucie Mets
High-A: Brooklyn Cyclones
Double-A: Binghamton Rumble Ponies
Triple-A: Syracuse Mets

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credits: Benjamin Hill, who covers the business and culture of Minor League Baseball, has visited 182 Minor League ballparks.